Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Foxconn Suicides - APPLE is sad about it

The Star May 26 : APPLE says 'saddened" by string of suicides at Foxconn

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Apple Inc said on Wednesday that it was saddened by a recent spate of apparent suicides at Foxconn, one of its key production partners, and would continue ongoing inspections of all facilities where its products are made.
"We are saddened and upset by the recent suicides at Foxconn," the maker of iPhones and iPads said in its first public comment on the string of deaths at Foxconn's southern China production complex
 We are in direct contact with Foxconn senior management and we believe they are taking this matter very seriously," Apple said. "A team from Apple is independently evaluating the steps they are taking to address these tragic events and we will continue our ongoing inspections of the facilities where our products are made."
Apple made its remarks as Foxconn and the company's parent, Hon Hai embarked on a rare public relations blitz to counter a growing backlash against the company over the string of nine apparent suicides there this year.

Today, the 11th Foxconn employee die when he  jumped from the factory building. This came just hours after Foxconn's CEO Guo Tai Ming gave his first official response about the earlier deaths. 
This follows a spate of other deaths in the last five months and claims of workers persecution and poor working conditions.

Guo Tai-ming told reporters yesterday that despite all these suicides, the company isn't a "sweatshop," and he'd invited 100 members of the press to view the facilities today. He said "We want every employee to be happy while working here, and with a happy life. This is our goal which has been advertised, today we will not change, and this will not change in the future. What we have to change, the future (on employee to be happy while working) has to be strengthen. We did a lot of work, we have 70 psychiatrist to prevent suicide, we have trained 100 voluntary workers for the care and counseling department, they need to pass the exam to qualify for this. Our suicide prevent mechanism, we have a reporting system for it, a 50-member working group has been established".

Apple released a statement saying that they are "saddened and upset by the recent suicides at Foxconn," confirming that they are "in direct contact with Foxconn senior management and we believe they are taking this matter very seriously."

Dell meanwhile has also spoken about the suicides, saying "We expect our suppliers to employ the same high standards we do in our own facilities. We enforce these standards through a variety of tools, including the Electronics Industry code of conduct, business reviews with suppliers, self-assessments and audits" . 

Soon one will hear of USA human rights action groups and NGO's rising up in protest against such cases of factory violation and ill-treatment of workers. It was reported the workers had to work up to 12 hours a day long for a monthly pay of less than US$200.   Factory and labor compliance activist will clamor for more stringent inspection and verification of factory's practices. Labor unions in the US will grasp this opportunity to protest against the shifting of jobs out from the country.  Already there are calls to ban the import of Apple iPhones, iPods, MacBooks etc into USA from China, an initiative I feel will not succeed. Foxconn provides employment to  about 400,000 people - a frightening figure. The factory premises itself is a self contained city.  One can imagine the problems of management to take care of its people. If this is not a manufacturing facility the suicides will never make the headlines. Looking at the numbers it is even more than my home district Batu Pahat which has only 350,000 people.

Other news release :

A local press had mocked the company with this cartoon strip:

This comic shows the high building of Foxconn with a signboard put on top saying "Suicide is Forbidden, Suicide is harmful to health".
And the man (representing Foxconn) pointing at the signboard says "We have tried our best", and the man with white costume says "I think is a problem of " feng shui. "

 Another had released a "advertisement" mocking its recruitment drive :

Foxconn -- We're Hiring
Are you feeling down today? Do you feel like not living anymore? Do you want to know what it feels like to jump down from China's model suicide jumping facility? Foxconn provides you the perfect environment to jump. All the many reasons to jump here have ensured at least one jump per week. Comprehensive press coverage guaranteed to ensure your name travels ten thousand miles. What are you waiting for? Pick up your phone now and join Foxconn.
Be the kickass twelfth jumper. You can do it.

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